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Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,043 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Scenes are useful fictional units, and if a single unit falters, then an entire novel or short story can be weakened. This title explains the fundamentals of strong scene construction and how other useful fiction-writing techniques, such as character development, description, and transitions must function within the framework of individual scenes.
Paperback, 276 pages
Published 2008 by Writer's Digest Books (first published November 23rd 2007)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,043 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote this book. I really do think you'll take up your level of the craft if you read it :)
Lisa Annesley
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
Bottom line, Rosenfeld covers scene structure, scene types, and everything that goes in to a scene.

Specifically, she covers:
The Architecture of a Scene--Beginnings (Launches), Middles and Ends
Core Elements--Setting, Senses, Character, Plot, etc.
Scene Types--First Scene, Suspense Scene, Dramatic Scene, Contemplative, etc.
Other Considerations--POV, Secondary and Minor Characters, Transitions, etc.

I think that the strength of this book is that Rosenfeld covers the core elements of a scene, such as
Nov 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I am reading this very slowly, but I am almost through. I like taking it in step by step as I write.
I'll cheat and say I have finished. Excellent, practical book for all writers. Very well done!

I would recommend going through it slowly, step by step.
Vicki Roberts
I normally try to read two books at a time, one for pleasure and one as a learning tool for my writing. Last week I finished Make a Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld, and I have to take a minute to just sing its praises! Of course no book will be the best fit for every writer, but for me, this book was hitting pay dirt.
Since I'm focused on writing my novel scene by scene, Rosenfeld laid out every detail I need to be paying attention to. Because I borrowed the book from Amazon on my Prime Membership, I t
Newton Nitro
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Um dos elementos essenciais para qualquer escritor de ficção é a construção de cenas orgânicas e empolgantes dentro de uma história. Afinal, o que é uma história senão uma sequência de cenas integradas umas às outras, com alguns sumários narrativos fazendo de cola? Por isso, o livro Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time de Jordan Rosenfeld é uma ferramenta e tanto para escritores iniciantes, que queiram entender os elementos essenciais de construção de cenas narrativas e at ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent writing tool. I keep this nearby when I write to read the tips in specific sections.
Melinda Tyler
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have two books that I go to regularly when I'm writing. The Elements of Style by Strunk & White and On Writing by Stephen King. The former was a gift from my mother when I first told her I wanted to write. It's a technical bible to writing. On Writing gave me more: many great tips, good prompts, but most of all, it gave me the confidence to tackle my first book.

Make a Scene is a great book for anyone who is writing fiction. But like any 'how to' book, you have to take what works for you a
Keith Skinner
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author's focus on the scene as the primary building block of a story is what drew me to the book. Yes, a lot of the material is basic stuff: general story structure, introducing conflict, etc. but where the book shines is in the way it frames this material. By concentrating on the scene, the way each begins and ends, setting up the next scene or drawing on previous scenes, not only strengthens the storytelling but allows the writer to have a roadmap. He/she isn't just wandering around in a l ...more
Kara Rae Garland
Aug 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. On one hand, I'm finding it very difficult to focus on due to lengthy descriptions of what, to me, is common sense. On the other, I think framing scenes this way is a pretty useful way of looking at the fiction writing process. So while Make a Scene is not really my kind of book, I think it has value. It is most certainly *the* right book for some writers.

UPDATE: No, I can't even give this book 2 stars. It is tedious beyond belief. Too much of it feels li
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel that this book has something for everyone, i.e. a lot of what she says is stuff you learn at the beginner level, so it didn't do much for me there, but it also offered me things that are relevant to my work today, and things I didn't know and/or hadn't considered.

It'd be enormously helpful too, I think, to people who have difficulty getting into a character's head, or imagining things from someone else's perspective. It's heckin' strong on the act of storytelling, for your character, for
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I still remember the day I realized writing a novel wasn't a matter of sitting down and churning out about 80,000 words, but of writing one scene at a time. Obvious now, but it changed the way I viewed writing fiction completely. Still, it's hard to even define a scene, let alone figure out the different kinds and how to write each of them well. This book is a great help.

For new fiction writers this will help make the task manageable before you start. Then, after you've finished both new and exp
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Make a Scene is an in depth writing reference on scenes. Rosenfeld covers the Architecture of a Scene, Core Elements, Scene Types, and Other Scene Considerations. Granted, if you've read writing books and have some experience as a writer, then some of the information is review, but it's always good to review and se how characters and plot fit into scenes. Scenes form the whole of a narrative and are crucial to understand for any writer. I found the sections on scene types and other consideration ...more
Rachel Blom
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-writing
This is how I like my books on writing: structured, to the point, with practical tips and advice and plenty of examples.

As always, there's a lot of familiar territory here. If you've read two dozen or so books on writing, you're bound to find the same advice again and again. Of course the approach is always different and for me the question is always: was there something new, something that helped me take my writing to the next level.

There was. Make a scene focuses on the scene (no surprises th
Turok Tucker
Begins with a Joseph Conrad Scene, claiming to explain and teach to us how to do exactly that, ends with an everything and the kitchen sink approach that left me feeling. MAKE A SCENE just packs so much into one book that it becomes hard to nail down any one specific lesson. A lot of craft books are the same thing with different verbiage, here the verbiage is plain enough but by the time the complexity of the DOS and DONTS of beginnings were played out MAKE A SCENE was already feeling like a min ...more
Theresa Milstein
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got more out of this, the more I read. I found the chapters about epiphanies, climaxes, and secondary and minor characters most helpful. The POV chapter had a fresh perspective on multiple points of view, so I learned from that chapter too. The last chapter on scene assessment and revision was great too. There's a checklist, so you can decide if you have a scene or vignette. There's also another checklist to make sure you scene has all the elements in place. I've read quite a few books on writ ...more
Janett Wawrzyniak
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writing scenes that move your story forward is given in many examples. Different scene structures listed with their components, is a valuable reference tool for completion of a novel. Individually scenes may be intense or mild, contemplative or dramatic, but when they are used in combination, they form a fantastic narrative that feels rich and complex. Entertain and inform the reader through clear and powerful scenes. This book should help build a vivid scene, and link each of your scenes to cre ...more
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book very helpful. I liked the many lists and "muse points" found in the book. I am right-brained and those appealed to me very much. I took copious notes as I read it and plan on planning and evaluating the scenes of my WIP using my notes.
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Every writer needs this book. Detailed information on all the elements of a good scene, and linking them all together to form one terrific book. My copy is already starting to wear out from all the thumb thoughs.
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. One of the best 'how to' books I've read.
Kenya Wright
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good breakdown of scenes. Very introductory, but a great relearning exercise.
J.M. Stoneback
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I learned a lot, would recommend it to any writer
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own, s-writing
Best writing book I have read. Great advice for crafting scenes.
Rachel Smith
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I heart finding a book which inspires me to keep writing, and this was no exception.
Jakk Makk
Jun 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: not for men
Libbie Hawker and Jordan Rosenfield should decide among themselves if Humbert's goal is to control Lolita or be loved by her, and leave me out of it. If a man used these examples, would we think it's acceptable? I was looking for a book superior to Scene and Structure. This isn't it. The first forty pages were so creepy I wanted to take a shower, blech! If Rosenfield considered the audience, she might find that tales of abuse, prostitution, and under-aged sex, might distract the writer from what ...more
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really appreciated the straight-to-the-point, practical, and clearly actionable tips and advice presented in this book. It forced me to think about the structure of my stories in a way I hadn't really considered before, and I plan to implement several new things into my writing process as a result. The book did get a little repetitive at times, and I felt like some of the more foundational advice for writing fiction would have been more useful to newer writers. As with any instructional book, ...more
Frank Solomon
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on writing scenes, including topics about scene transition and character development. This dovetails nicely with books that emphasize story over plot; for example Robert McKee's "Story -- Substance, Structure, Style and the principles of Screenwriting."

I especially found useful the suggested questions that an author should ask about the scenes in various "acts" of the story.

Well written and interesting.
Roy Dufrain
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Instead of one more lecture on the old platitude to "show don't tell," here are the actual nuts and bolts of assembling that illusive fictive dream scene by scene. Plus an excellent and helpful taxonomy of scene types, detailing their various goals and the techniques needed to achieve them. I've found this book indispensable while planning major revision on my novel in progress.
Laurie Evans
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great breakdowns on how to write scenes. I appreciated the info about how to move in and out of scenes. Plenty of examples and explanations. Recommended for those who want to learn more about writing scenes.
Emily Brady
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great resource for writers looking to tighten up and focus their stories. Excellent information on using the senses in your writing, how different types of scenes work, as well as examples from authors who do it well.
Can offer some interesting insights, but the integral text is tiresome, redundant and coloured by personal taste/perspective. Often feels as if it was not as much written to instruct others but rather to showcase the author's writing flourish and scope of the literary work known to him.
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Jordan E. Rosenfeld is an author, editor, and freelance writer. She is the author of WOMEN IN RED, NIGHT ORACLE, FORGED IN GRACE, as well as the writing guides: How to Write a Page Turner (forthcoming), Writing the Intimate Character, Writing Deep Scenes, A Writer's Guide to Persistence, Make A Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time, which is now in its second edition, and "Write Fre ...more